Just to put a point on it, the lead FS official at the time of the supposed Westside project "collaboration" with the local homeowners and the Bitterroot Restoration Committee said after the timber sale was OK'd, The Bitterroot Restoration Committee actually works on a consensus basis. And have to admit my observation would be on this particular project, as well as on certain other issues I dont believe that theyve met that consensus at this point in time.
One of the main complaints in the ongoing litigation, as well as in the 17 citizen Objections, is the lack of "collaboration". The Objections were dismissed out of hand It seems certain FS officials confirm that claim, now that the NEPA process is over.
The reason this is important, and the way to understand the FS rush to dismiss the failure to genuinely collaborate, is that "collaboration" is required by law to take the analysis shortcuts they took as well as to access the pots of taxpayer money they are using to implement the timber sale. The self-acknowledged failure to legitimately collaborate makes this timber sale and the use of special tax funding illegitimate/illegal.
It is worth noting that one of the fundamental purposes of the clamor for "collaboration" is to give extra weight to local opinions on forest management. The fact that so many of the Objections were from the most local citizens, local homeowners, shows that the concept is not working in practice. Nor should it, in my opinion. Citizens all across the US own that land equally. We locals already earn a bonus by being able to enjoy it on a daily basis. What would you think if residents of Manhattan agreed to sell off parts of the Statue of Liberty to help their local economy. This policy would create a fire sale of public assets by local interests for their own local benefit, which is what we see with our public forests.
I prefer the NEPA process, which gives all Americans an equal voice in commenting on projects that effect their equally owned public land heritage, even if they can't travel hundreds or thousands of miles to attend meetings in Hamilton, Montana. I don't want to have to go to NY to defend the Statue of Liberty from being sold off as trinkets.
Let's not forget, our own Senator Tester was the first to use a must pass rider to delist an endangered species, the wolf. His precedent is going viral of course. Who needs democratic process when you need to get re-elected. Tester is blind to ecology or conservation, yet he boldly jumps in the deep end introducing radical policy changes that have terrible implications. His lack of appreciation for wild nature is rivalled only by his disdain of democratic process.
Going, going, gone...wilderness is a rare and precious thing. It is disappearing fast enough without the collaboration of the Montana Wilderness Association, Wilderness Society, GYC, TNC and the other "conservation" organizations that sell it out for the purpose of their organizational fundraising and the privilege of being invited to the table by politicos indebted to resource extraction and wreckcreational industries. The drain on irreplaceable wildlands is very shortsighted.
OutNAbout says, "While I can understand the desire to incite their fans, generate membership revenue and defend their personally favored form of outdoor recreation, none of that is a very good basis for setting public policy. Of course, the backers of the bill are also selfish in the sense that they would like to visit at least some of the land in the manner they enjoy. But if that manner is as quiet, human-powered, sustainable and environmentally benign (or more so) as currently allowed uses (foot and hoof), then we should all endeavor to accommodate it on at least some of our publicly-owned Wilderness lands."
Out can't seem to fathom any altruistic reason a person or group of people might value wilderness for its own sake beyond selfish gain. I guess today's me-me-mine mindset is blind to the idea that Wilderness is not about recreation or necessarily benefiting any individual person. It is about setting aside some of god's green earth for wildness to run wild. Domination by man has subdued most landscapes and the trend continues. "Compromise" keeps cutting the cookie in half. That's a recipe for exponential loss of wildlands, and in these much touted legislated "collaborative" "compromises" Wilderness never even gets half.
Bikes would shrink wildlands even more because they travel much faster than foot or horse users. Why do bikers want it all? Why are they not satisfied to ride on the 95+% of public land available for bikes? Blind selfishness trumps nature and will until humans grow some humility and generosity of spirit. Wreckcreation is doing just that
The Bitterroot National Forest has seriously undermined the work and the function of the Bitterroot Restoration Committee. The BRC is supposed to develop proposals for restoration after discussion and reaching consensus. The BRC initiated a Westside proposal that was about a third the size of the final BNF project. The BNF claimed BRC support for the much larger project prior to the BRC being able to finalize their proposal, let alone reach consensus on the unfinished proposal. This subterfuge and abuse of process shows what "collaboration" means to the USFS. It is simply a charade of "finding common ground amongst traditional adversaries". The USFS either finds a group that will agree with whatever the FS wants to do, or hijack the process to do what they want to do.
The BNF has squandered any trust they might have had with local landowners and they have made moot the work done by the BRC, reducing it to a rubber stamp at best for the BNF agenda. And, since when is roadbuilding and a new bridge considered "restoration"? Calling this project "Collaborative" and "Restoration" is sheer deception and makes meaningful public discussion impossible.
Aside from the question of whether the logging (and the new roads and bridge necessitated by log hauling) will accomplish what the FS has in mind on this timber sale, the public process demonstrated by FS planners on the Westside project leaves no doubt about their low regard for meaningful involvement by the owners of the public forests.
While steamrolling toward their preconceived plan the Bitterroot National Forest undermined the process of the Bitterroot Restoration Committee, a "consensus-based", "collaborative" group meant to find common ground amongst "traditional adversaries" in the hopes of avoiding litigation on proposed projects. The BNF hijacked a much smaller BRC proposal in the area while it was being discussed by the BRC and before the smaller (about 1/3 the size) proposal could be finalized, let alone find consensus. The work of the BRC was made moot; "collaboration" was shown to be a ruse; and the purpose of "collaboration" was negated. The name of the timber sale is loaded with rhetorical disinformation. It is called, the Westside Collaborative Restoration project. It is "westside" but not "collaborative" or "restoration". Those words are added by the FS in order to access pots of taxpayer money and shortcut public process available for logging timber sales that qualify as such. This timber sale does not. The BRC has become simply a discussion group loaded in the timber industry and FS favor used to greenwash FS projects. The FS continues to bastardize the English language, making George Orwell look like he lacked imagination in double-speak.
From a friend:
There have been a number of studies on the effects of recreation activities on elk. A recent literature review by McCorquodale (2013) with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife summarizes research on ways roads (and motorized trails) may potentially affect elk: 1) physiologic and energetic effects, 2) effects on distribution and habitat use, and 3) effects on vulnerability to mortality and, potentially, population dynamics. Naylor (2006, Naylor et al. 2009) found that off-road recreation produces a change in elk behavior. Results of studies in a 3,590 acre section of the study area demonstrated that activity budgets of elk were altered during exposure to off-road recreation disturbance in a 25,000 acre elk summer range in Oregon at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range. Elk increased their travel time during most disturbance, which reduced time spent feeding or resting. Elk travel time was highest during ATV exposure, followed by exposure to mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Elk reacted negatively to ATV traffic at distances up to 1,000 meters and had a high probability of fleeing if they were near an ATV trail when ATVs were detected. It appeared that elk would habituate to horseback riding, but not to mountain biking.
In one well-designed study, Wisdom et al. (2004) observed increases in elk flight response and movement rates related to human recreational use in the same 3,590 acre section of the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in Oregon. Elk flight response was greatest for ORV use, followed by mountain biking, and finally human hikers and horseback riders. "Higher probabilities of flight response occurred during ATV and mountain bike activity, in contrast to lower probabilities observed during hiking and horseback riding.
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